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512 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 2, Fall 1997© 1997 by University ofHawai'i Press 3.Her name really means "androecia"; I think botanical correctness does, in this case, result in an appropriately elegant-sounding name, and one less maidenly than "flowerbud." 4.Guwen guanzhi "¡Ëi^CÏSlh, ed. Xie Bingying WiWSk et al. (Taipei: Sanmin Shuju, 1971), p. 381. Elizabeth J. Perry, editor. Putting Class in Its Place: Worker Identities in EastAsia. China Research Monograph 48. Berkeley: Institute ofEast Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley, 1996. ix, 250 pp. Paperback $18.50, isbn 1-55729-050-4. This volume, the outgrowth of a 1993 conference on labor in East Asia, consists of an introduction written by editor Elizabeth Perry and eight individual chapters dealing with the issues relevant to labor in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the People's Republic of China. As noted by Perry in her introduction, this work is distinctive, in contrast to much of the previous research on labor and industrialization in East Asia, because each chapter has been prepared by a specialist with extensive credentials in the field. The resulting research, which makes use of painstaking and meticulously gathered primary source materials, is one of the impressive strengths of the book. The central focus of this book, as Perry notes, is to investigate the phenomenon ofworker identities in East Asia. Partially revisionist in spirit, it seeks to redress the conception, popularized in particular by Frederick Deyo, of East Asian workers as the politically acquiescent, weak, and passive subjects of strong, authoritarian state governments.1 In Perry's words, she intends to reveal "an East Asian workforce that is a good deal more feisty than commonly believed" (p. 2). Nonetheless, the authors acknowledge that East Asian workers have largely failed to conform to traditional European-derived conceptions of a working class that is conscious of itself as a class and motivated to further its interests via class struggle. Rather, for as yet unidentified reasons, East Asian workers have indicated a preference for and a preoccupation with issues of social and cultural status, referred to by Perry as the politics of "place." This theme is elaborated in the subsequent chapters. In the first chapter, Andrew Gordon investigates the Japanese steelmaking industry after World War II, seeking to analyze why the labor militancy of that period was not sustained over time. Gordon concludes that, in essence, the concept of a working class, in the sense used by English labor historian E. P. Thompson, Reviews 513 has virtually disappeared in Japan, the victim ofpersistent tendencies ofJapanese workers to value the workplace as a community that transcends class antagonisms .2 Chapter 2, by Hagen Koo, also focuses on industrial workers, here in South Korea from the 1960s to die 1980s. Koo highlights the differences that separate the experience and attitudes ofSouth Korean workers from their counterparts elsewhere in East Asia: these include a far less paternalistic enterprise structure , harsher working conditions—the Korean work week, for example, is one of the longest in the world—a significantiy lower social status, and the increased role of external agents, in this case intellectuals and the church, as agents of consciousness raising and worker mobilization. Koo, nonetheless, makes use oftraditional Confucian categories in explaining Korean workers' propensity toward hard work, viewing it as a consequence of a deeply internalized ethic ofresponsibility and self-sacrifice to the family. The next three authors examine labor issues in Taiwan. Nai-teh Wu, in chapter 3, makes use of survey data to examine the question ofworking-class identity. The data reveal a high degree of awareness of class divisions among the Taiwanese population, with Taiwanese workers unambiguously classifying themselves, based primarily on economic criteria, as members of the working class. Workers' class consciousness, nonetheless, remains largely undeveloped, a consequence, in Wu's view, of the fundamental acceptance by workers of social inequality and the ideological legitimacy of capitalism as a societal system. Wu's assessment ofTaiwanese workers is echoed by Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao in his subsequent chapter on literary images of the Taiwanese working class. Hsiao examines the means by which the working class has been portrayed in Taiwanese literature since the 1970s. While...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 512-515
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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